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5E What to do about Hypnotic Pattern?

Azuresun

Explorer
Then as the DM you should absolutely do something about the spell, whether its having a talk with your players or adjusting the spell.

The DM's fun is the most important...because your also doing a lot of work. Players don't have to do much for their fun, so if its diminished slightly they will still find plenty of ways to enjoy things. But if a DM is not enjoying the game....that quickly leads to burnout....and then the game ends. I have both seen it and dealt with it personally several times over my 20 years of gaming/Dming.

So don't feel bad about making adjustments to ensure your own enjoyment.
Indeed. I don't particularly view "working around" OP spells as some test of my manhood, when I could be spending that time and effort on better things. A quick and dirty fix is simply having the save repeat--like it does for nearly every other disabling spell in the entire game, including those of much higher level.
 

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Indeed. I don't particularly view "working around" OP spells as some test of my manhood, when I could be spending that time and effort on better things. A quick and dirty fix is simply having the save repeat--like it does for nearly every other disabling spell in the entire game, including those of much higher level.
It is perfectly fine to adjust spells a bit if they do not fit your game. And I guess at very high levels it is still a very good spell. Giving it a save every round seems to nerf it too hard, because there are other easy ways to end the spell. Even if an enemy counters the spell by just throwing a fireball at everyone in the area including allies and enemies alike.

The best of both worlds might be giving a saving throw each round for enemies of CR greater than the level of the spell slot used to cast this spell.
That might actually be an option for polymorph too.
 
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jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
I get the feeling some people think I want to shut the spell down completely and make sure it never works. That's not the case.

Have you asked them if they would have more fun if the combats were more varied?
What does your group want?
You may have missed the point where this isn't one group or one campaign. It's more about what this one player (who is in multiple campaigns that I run, with different other players in each one) wants. And I believe this one player is okay with choosing when to use the spell and when not to use it, as I have not seen any disappointment or resistance when it's not the best option. I'm just asking for tactical advice on how to provide that choice.
 
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You introduce a unique enemy or Spellscale mercenaries with a NPC only feat that allows said enemies to reflect the Hypnotic Gaze back at the Gazer/party. Said enemies have Auto-Advantage on rolls to reflect it back.

Make sure it's not a one off encounter. You want this to mean business when this happens.
 
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Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
Here is a suggestion for an altered version:

Hypnotic Pattern
3rd level illusion
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 60 feet
  • Components: S M (A glowing stick of incense or a crystal vial filled with phosphorescent material)
  • Duration: Up to 1 minute
  • Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
You create a twisting pattern of colours that weaves through the air inside a 30-foot cube within range. The pattern persists for the duration of the spell. Each creature in the area who sees the pattern (including those who enter the area during the duration of the spell) must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature becomes charmed for the duration. While charmed by this spell, the creature is incapacitated and has a speed of 0.
At the end of its turns, an affected target can make a Wisdom saving throw. If it succeeds, this effect ends for that target.The spell also ends for an affected creature if it takes any damage or if someone else uses an action to shake the creature out of its stupor. Once the creature succeeds in a saving throw against the spell or the effect ends for it, the creature cannot be affected by this spell for the rest of the encounter.
 

Here is an idea - drop this magic item into the path of your players.

Instrument of the Bards: Fey Cursed Lyre Wondrous Item, Rare, (Requires attunement by a bard)
A bard once used this lyre to charm a fey, asking them to imbue their instrument with powerful magic. This is the result.
You can use an action to play this instrument and cast one of it's spells. Once the instrument has been used to cast a spell, it cannot be used to cast that spell again until the next dawn. the spells use your spellcasting ability and spell save DC. It's spells are: Catapult, Chaos Bolt, Hex, Black Tentacles, Danse Macabre.
Curse. Once attuned to this lyre you cannot cast any spells without using it as your spellcasting focus. Whenever you cast a spell that has a charm effect using this item as your focus, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table (PHB p104). Casting Remove Curse allows the instrument to be unattuned but the curse can never be permanently removed without destroying the lyre.
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
Here is an idea - drop this magic item into the path of your players.

Instrument of the Bards: Fey Cursed Lyre Wondrous Item, Rare, (Requires attunement by a bard)
A bard once used this lyre to charm a fey, asking them to imbue their instrument with powerful magic. This is the result.
You can use an action to play this instrument and cast one of it's spells. Once the instrument has been used to cast a spell, it cannot be used to cast that spell again until the next dawn. the spells use your spellcasting ability and spell save DC. It's spells are: Catapult, Chaos Bolt, Hex, Black Tentacles, Danse Macabre.
Curse. Once attuned to this lyre you cannot cast any spells without using it as your spellcasting focus. Whenever you cast a spell that has a charm effect using this item as your focus, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table (PHB p104). Casting Remove Curse allows the instrument to be unattuned but the curse can never be permanently removed without destroying the lyre.
Sounds like a passive aggressive in game solution for a situation that calls for an out of game solution.
 



jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
The OP has already ruled out an out-of-game solution.
Well, that's a mistake.
Let me repeat what I said above: I'm just asking for tactical advice here. I don't want to shut the spell down completely.

Interestingly, last night the group fought some undead that are immune to charm. The bard's player tried hypnotic pattern and found out it didn't work (and was fine with that beyond saying "I wish I'd known that ahead of time"). A couple of the other players told me afterward that they were glad because apparently they don't like having to tiptoe around not hitting the hypnotized monsters. But that's only a couple of players across multiple campaigns.

On the downside, I inadvertently gave them a soft "doom clock," and now they don't want to do any exploration or side quests or anything that's not directly laser-focused on achieving that one singular goal.
 
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cmad1977

Hero
Groups tend to focus on things they find particularly powerful. In my first game we had a half-elf red dragon sorceress. Once she got to 5th level, fireball began its long and glorious career. Starting about 9th level, at least 1 fireball appeared every encounter; often it was two. She tried to diversify, but found that upcasting fireball was generally better than most other choices (this was pre-XGtE). The only time I got a break from fireball was when they went into a volcano to face off against fire giants and a red dragon, and even then it made an occasional appearance (she could ignore Resistance, but not Immunity). This continued until level 18, when the campaign came to a close. As a DM you just kind of get used to it, because the focus may change to something else over time. My group is currently focused on Suggestion, Spirit Guardians, and Sickening Radiance.
Twinned scorching Ray and Haste were my “fireballs” in this scenario.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
The groups I DM for always have someone with hypnotic pattern, as soon as they're high enough level to take the spell. This is because one particular player has learned how good it is and therefore always takes it. Always. No exceptions. And if that PC runs out of spell slots to cast it, they'll rest instead of fighting without it.

I've spread out the baddies so that they can't all be caught with one spell.

I've given the baddies magic resistance.

I've had the baddies use their turns to wake each other up.

None of them seem to prevent the fights from becoming predictable, at least where hypnotic pattern is concerned. I really hate that bit at the end when the whole party is whaling on the one poor leftover who was looking at the pretty lights while his buddies got slaughtered.

Does anyone have suggestions for any other way to deal with the spell?
So the PCs have figured out how good a spell is. Has the rest of the fantasy world not figured it out too?
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
So the PCs have figured out how good a spell is. Has the rest of the fantasy world not figured it out too?
Exactly. I was thinking - EVERY spellcaster who can cast a 3rd level spell casts it on the players. Always, first. Ideally they also have the Sorcerer's metamagic for "Careful spell". As the players come up with solutions to get around it, the world reacts and starts to use the same solutions...

That said, in the game I'm a player, I'm going to ditch Telekinesis for my 10th level Sorcerer and take Hypnotic Pattern :devilish:
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
So the PCs have figured out how good a spell is. Has the rest of the fantasy world not figured it out too?
Exactly. I was thinking - EVERY spellcaster who can cast a 3rd level spell casts it on the players. Always, first.
Worth a try--but we have two bards in the party, and countercharm (6th level ability) works on all friendlies within 30 feet. (And that's assuming I don't have my usual abysmal luck with initiative, lol.)
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Worth a try--but we have two bards in the party, and countercharm (6th level ability) works on all friendlies within 30 feet. (And that's assuming I don't have my usual abysmal luck with initiative, lol.)
Hah, sounds like they have optimized for parties just like them. I don't have anything else that hasn't already been suggested; but I do like throwing hundreds of "immune to charm" folks at them (elves, for example).

That said, the gloomstalker in our party has started to get tired of apparently EVERY SINGLE MONSTER in Mad Mage has Blindsight haha. So you risk them calling foul...
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
Exactly. I was thinking - EVERY spellcaster who can cast a 3rd level spell casts it on the players. Always, first. Ideally they also have the Sorcerer's metamagic for "Careful spell". As the players come up with solutions to get around it, the world reacts and starts to use the same solutions...
Does this actually sound fun to you?
 


Hah, no. I don't recall the OP requesting "fun" as a pre-req.
😜
I think you should not do what you suggested. If you do that all the time you can just go ahead and tell your players that you have a problem with that spell.

I once nearly slaughtered my party who all took a level of barbarian with trolls that also were from a berserker tribe... Afterwards I spoke to my party and told them that it is not particular fun to play that way and that they should at least have a story reason for multiclass choices like that.

What could be done is using a similar tactic against your players once and then ask them how much fun it was. Then you should tell your players that it is not how you want the game to play out. Make it clear how the world reacts to such tactics. Even if it is hiring a bunch of elven assassins to scare them. Send undeads after them.
Also tell them that 5min work day will have consequences and that you like tonswitch to a different rest system if necessary.
I remember our ADnD DM telling us that our characters are just not tired enough to rest after 5mins. No very elegant, but a possibility. A little bit more elegant is combining it with my first suggestion, sending assassins at an ever resting party. Usually only doing one encounter per day allows the villains to plan ahead and getting reenforcements.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Worth a try--but we have two bards in the party, and countercharm (6th level ability) works on all friendlies within 30 feet. (And that's assuming I don't have my usual abysmal luck with initiative, lol.)
Have multiple bad guy that can cast it? If team bad guy loses initiative, have the enemy casters spread out enough that they can't both be targeted or just have them in a separate room behind a closed door. If both bards make the save, cast again.

Personally I try to avoid adversarial DMing to "teach players a lesson" but if it's a tactic you think might work then there are ways to make it happen.
 


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